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18.09.2009 15:29

From “Infantil B” to World number one

Sandra Sarmiento / Jaume Marcet

From Rosario to Barcelona. From the Masía Academy to the Camp Nou. And from the Camp Nou to Rome’s Olympic Stadium. A Barça career that has lasted nine years so far to become the best player in the world.

He was born in Argentina but he learned his football in the Masía. Even when he arrived in Barcelona with his father as a 13-year-old boy it was clear he would be special. A shortish forward who has developed into the best player in the world.

In 2001, Leo Messi joined Barça’s “Infantil B” squad coached by Xavi Llorens.

A meteoric rise through the ranks

Juvenils_accix_15-5-04.jpgAfter overcoming a serious injury and a number of bureaucratic problems that prevented him from playing, Messi shone with “Cadete B” team alongside Cesc and Piqué. He won everything in the 2002/03 season with “Cadete A” and in the following season broke all the records by appearing in five different categories.

He made his first appearance for the senior team in a friendly against Porto in Portugal. He did enough in that match to suggest he would soon be rubbing shoulders with established stars such as Deco and Ronaldinho.

Debut en Montjuïc

Messi.jpgThanks to his lightening pace and ability to move with the ball stuck to his feet, Messi made his competitive debut in a Barcelona derby against Espanyol in Montjuïc in October 2004. A few months later he scored his first senior goal against Albacete in the Camp Nou, delighting the fans with his genuine footballing skills.

Take off in his second season

19-11-05_Messi_01.jpgMessi really established himself for good on 20th November 2005 in the Santiago Bernabéu itself, the day that Ronaldinho reached the peak of world football. Messi also played his part in a magical night for Barça fans. Messi came into the starting line-up in place of Ludovic Giuly and delighted half of Europe.

Messi’s career really took off from that point, only held back by the muscle injuries that stopped him playing in the Paris CL final against Arsenal.

Maradona and his first Madrid hat trick

qm3d7415.jpgMessi established himself in the team during the last two years of Rijkaard’s time as team manager. He hadn’t even been born when Diego Armando Maradona scored the ‘goal of the century’ against England in the World Cup quarterfinals on 24th June 1986 in México. But he scored an almost identical gaol against Getafe on 18th April 2007.

He also produced an amazing performance against Real Madrid and scored a hat trick.

Rome heaven

ZUERAS_FC.BARCELONA_-_MANCHESTER_UNITED_FINAL_CHAMPIONS_27-05-09_081.JPG2009 is the year of Barça, the treble and Messi. He scored Barça’s 5000th goal against Racing Santander in the Sardinero and inspired Barça to victory against Manchester United. He’s reached the top and he intends to stay there for many years to come – until 2016 at least!
From “Infantil B” to World number one
Messi’s statistics
7 League matches, 1 League goal, 1 Cup match, 1 Champions League match

17 League matches, 6 League goals, 6 Champions League matches, 1 Champions League goal, 2 Cup matches, 1 Cup goal.

26 League matches, 14 League goals, 2 Spanish Super Cup matches, 1 European Super Cup match, 5 Champions League matches, 1 Champions League goal, 2 Cup matches, 2 Cup goals.

28 League matches, 10 League goals, 9 Champions League matches, 6 Champions League goals, 3 Cup matches.

31 League matches, 23 League goals, 12 Champions League matches, 9 Champions League goals, 8 Cup matches, 6 Cup goals

1 League match, 1 League goal, 1 Champions League match, 1 Spanish Super Cup match, 2 Spanish Super Cup goals, 1 European Super Cup match.

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